As a Facebook employee, Nikila Srinivasan gets the company’s standard list of perks like vending machines with free computer accessories, unlimited dry-cleaning, and on-site work-out facilities.
But, as a product manager of its emerging markets monetisation team, she also enjoys another nice work benefit: A whole bunch of travelling.
Srivinivasan is one of the people responsible for making sure that Facebook’s ads work, look great, and are tailored to different audiences all around the world, particularly in new markets like India, Turkey, and Kenya. Facebook launched a program called Creative Accelerator earlier this year to help brands and their agencies make their ads work on every mobile device and connection type.
That’s where the travelling comes in.
Srivinivasan told Business Insider that by visiting different countries, she and her team pick up on nuances in how people use Facebook and their phones — including what average bandwidth and connections are like — and can then turn those insights into actionable advice for how advertisers should build their campaigns.
For example, in India, Facebook has an ad product called “missed call” that’s based on a way that people there typically cut down on their phone bills. If someone in India wants to talk to someone, but doesn’t want to waste their phone plan, they will call that person’s number, hang up after it rings, and wait to get a call back.
So, building off that, Facebook has created a product where people can avoid using their data plan by clicking on an ad on Facebook mobile and then having the advertiser pay the data costs of sending them some sort of content, like music or a celebrity message.
Facebook has also found that people in the Middle East consume more video per person than any other region in the world. But, many people there also have “typical” smartphones (Srivinivasan says that Facebook doesn’t call them “low-end”), so the company helps advertisers make sure that their videos will be easy to understand and to view no matter the screen size or resolution.
The company’s “empathy room” comes in handy there, too.
Facebook has a dedicated room in its HQ filled with low-end Android smartphones and old flip phones. The room simulates the sluggish wireless connections that many experience abroad, so employees like Srivinivasan and her team can test out what viewing Facebook and ads would really be like for someone in Kenya or India.
Facebook officially makes more than half of its advertising revenue overseas, so the empathy room and the work that Srivinivasan and the Creative Accelerator team do is more important than ever.
That’s why she also told us that Creative Accelerator is opening up its platform from seven brand partners to many more around the world.
“When we travel to all these different countries, it’s amazing to see how many common patterns emerge and how many nuances do too,” Srivinivasan says. “But irrespective of the type of device and the type of connection, people’s excitement to be able to create and consume content that’s rich — like video or photos — doesn’t diminish. Just because I’m a feature phone user with a bad connection, that doesn’t mean that I should have to see anything that’s any less engaging.”
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